|South Howser Tower
This is a Bugaboos mega-classic that draws climbers from around the world and for obvious reasons. It's 2000' tall and has pitch after pitch of 5.8 and 5.9 climbing with short sections of 5.10 thrown in here and there for good measure. The elegant line follows a large buttress that soars up the full height of the west face. This is a full value route with excellent climbing, great position and spectacular views. Not to be missed.
P1: From a slab on the right side of the ridge climb up cracks and flakes to the ridge crest and belay. (5.5)
P2: Continue up the ridge crest and belay. (5.5)
P3: Keep climbing the crest until it steepens then follow cracks and grooves to the left of the crest to a belay ledge. (5.7)
P4: Climb just to the right of the crest following a finger and hand crack through a small bulge (5.10-) continue up to a small ledge and belay.
P5: Follow cracks just to the left of the ridge to easy ground. Continue up a flake and chimney to the left of the crest and belay on a sloping ledge. (5.8)
P6: Traverse right on an handrail to a large left facing dihedral. Climb up the dihedral and belay in a little alcove behind a jagged block. (5.8)
P7: Continue up the dihedral to a crack that leads to a large ledge covered with scree. (5.8)
P8: Climb up the scree ledge to its upper end and belay at a bivy site.
P9: Climb a chimney and follow cracks through blocks, belay near the bottom of a steep wall. (5.6)
P10: To the left follow a short but difficult crack to a ledge, traverse right to some opposing dihedrals and climb the right dihedral to a large flat ledge. (5.8)
P11: This is the start of the upper headwall pitches, referred to as the Great White Headwall. On the left side of the ledge climb a strenuous hand and fist crack up a right facing corner to a ledge. Continue up a another crack in a left facing corner till you are able to climb out left onto a steep face to a belay ledge out left. (5.10)
P12: Climb up above the belay and make a balance move right into a corner. Follow the corner past some blocks and a squeeze that's hard but can be done with a pack on. Belay at the base of a gully. (5.10)
P13: Climb up the gully to where it steepens turning into a corner. Follow the second crack on the left wall and belay at the bottom of a right facing corner. (5.9)
P14: Follow the long right facing dihedral to a two pin anchor in a small notch. (5.8)
P15: This is the crux pitch which can be aided but I didn't think it felt to hard. Traverse out left on thin holds and make a difficult move around the arete. Continue up an easy gully to its top and belay. The traverse can also be tensioned at A0. (5.10+ or A0)
From the top of the Gully make one rappel off a nest of slings and follow fourth and easy fifth class terrain to the true summit. To descend find the first rap anchor to the east of the summit and make 6 double rope rappels to the glacier. There are numerous rap anchors on the east face so keep an eye out and make sure your ropes reach to the glacier below the bergshrund on the last rap before you commit to it. Some parties put in a V-thread because their ropes didn't reach.
To get to this route take the Pigeon-Howser Col to the East Creek Basin Bivy. From the bivy head north following the occasional cairn and scramble up right onto the ridge. Work your way up the ridge until a large split boulder blocks your path.
A standard rack of nuts and cams up to 4" with some extra 1.5" to 2" pieces.
|By Br'er Rabbit|
From: The Briar Patch
Dec 23, 2008
Can someone describe the bivy site? Is this route doable in one push for us mere mortals? How long are the pitches on average?
|By George Perkins|
From: Los Alamos, NM
Dec 31, 2008
Ben Lyon wrote:
Can someone describe the bivy site?
The two bivi ledges at the top of p8 and p10 are sandy and big enough to unrope (the higher one is better in my estimation). The East Creek bivi boulder in the basin below the start is a nice camping spot; if you didn't have a tent and it rained, you could probably hide under the giant boulder (but if you're not carrying all your gear over the top- you have to return there anyway- may as well bring a shelter).
Ben Lyon wrote:
Is this route doable in one push for us mere mortals?
Maybe. Climb some 8 pitch routes on Snowpatch first and see how fast they go. The 3rd class at the start and the top of the B-C takes some time, as do the rappels.
Ben Lyon wrote:
How long are the pitches on average?
150'. Simulclimbing would be necessary to link pitches.
|By Dick Stone|
Jan 20, 2010
This is a AWESOME route! We did it in 2 days - hiking in from the camp area above the hut and climbing the 1st half (mostly simul climbing) the 1st day, reaching the 1st perfect bivy ledge apprx half way up by sundown. Then we finished off the route early the 2nd day leaving plenty of time for rapping down the back side.
Be patient and methodical on the descent rappels - there's many opportunites for stuck ropes and we elected shorter rappels vs. full length ones because of that, and consequently had no problems.
|By Patrick Maloney|
Jan 26, 2010
To answer the question about doing this route in a day,yes it is possible. James Garrett and myself did it back in 1991, and it really is a viable option, get an early start. We started about 5 a.m. from the camp between Pidgeon and south Howser with some simul climbing after the first 5.10- pitch and not alot of hangin around. just keep motoring and bear in mind that after the fifteen or sixteen pitches you will have 6 to 800 ft of 5.5 to 5.7 climbing and six double rope raps. We got back to camp at around 7:30 PM and in late July that will leave you with an hour and a half or so of daylight. Enjoy! it really is an incredible line.
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 4, 2011
To those who have climbed this route. At the headwall there is a crack that splits the middle of the face. The standard rout follows a crack system that goes to the left of this. The crack that splits the face is called loves lust(???) I think and it goes at 10+. Has anybody done this? It looks great and I am heading back there to repeat this route and want to try this. Any information is appreciated.
Jun 15, 2011
The Descent Route has now been fixed with good anchors. 11 raps w/single 60 m rope down the NE shoulder. Get good Beta at the Kain Hut before you head up. No more rapelling the frigid North face into the mind bending 'chasmic' mother of all bergschrunds!!!!!
|By Eric Fjellanger|
Sep 6, 2011
This route is AMAZING. The biggest, hardest, best alpine route I've climbed. Amazing line, amazing position, amazing quality.
I climbed this with my partner over Labor Day weekend. From Appleby, just under 24 hours camp-to-camp. It was a good time of year but a couple more hours of sun would have been nice!
Some beta I think is important:
How you work the approach and descent is very conditions-dependent. We were able to ditch our crampons and ice axes at the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col. Several inches of snow had fallen a day or two before, which enabled us to do this.
We did two raps from the Pigeon-Howser col into the East Creek Basin, off boulders, down to steps we had kicked the day before. I have never heard of this idea but it worked very well for us with a 70 meter rope.
I would probably not want to use a 60 meter rope on this route, the pitches are long.
I would REALLY not want to use a 60 meter rope to rap the advertised route down the NE shoulder. All the signs at the trailhead/hut/campground describe the route well, but when the sheet says a rappel is 30 meters, it means it's at least 30 meters... seems questionable to me, I was very glad we had extra rope.
Other than that it's a good rap route with one caveat: the second rappel, that says "go down the narrow ridge" really means exactly that, stay right on the narrow ridge, carefully. It was stressful in the dark and covered in snow. After that the raps were chill.
From: North Vancouver, BC
Aug 19, 2012
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
The rappels can be done with a 60m rope, although some are definitely rope stretchers. I wasn't sure about this, and had read conflicting reports.
At 6 AM, we did not need ice axes or crampons to descend into East Creek, nor to approach the route from East Creek, although it was slippery at times.
Recent BC parks rule changes now dictate that a bivy at the Pigeon-Howser col is allowed for this route.
We climbed Pigeon Spire the day before and left our ropes and rack at the Pigeon-Howser col, then climbed the route from Applebee in a day. This seemed to work well.
We soloed the first three pitches, and ended up climbing only 11 pitches, not counting some simul climbing at the top. In hindsight, the third pitch solo was sketchy, and I wouldn't do that again.
We brought a 4, and placed it often.
The 5.10 variation to the squeeze chimney is pretty good. It takes mostly finger sized gear and is a 60m pitch, so choose your rack accordingly.
The route is popular. Expect multiple parties.
6 days ago
A classic but serious-- if you are slow, weak or late, this thing will kick your ass, and bailing would be epic. Also note that if you have cloud cover, no moon, or both, it is VERY easy to lose your way on glaciers post-climb (esp if you are low on food or water). The people we rapped with bivvied at P-H col cos they couldn't find their way in fog back down to their tent in East Creek.
We did this route from Applebee and back in 21 hrs. B-S col was a deathtrap so we walked around the base of Snowpatch and up on south side of Pigeon to P-H col then down.
Approach took 4 1/2 hrs, route 9, getting to top and finding raps 1, rappelling (we simulrapped on one 70 with another party we met) 2 hrs and return to Applebee via icefall bypass rappels (on south face of Snowpatch) 5 hrs. I imagine that approaching and returning via B-S col you could nail this thing in prolly 16-18 hrs.
If you're slow and like carrying stuff and bivvying, I would bivvy on Pigeon-Howser col or at the base of Pigeon's west ridge. This will eliminate the need for a 2,000 foot descent post-climb into East Creek to get your stuff. Lots of good bivvy sites (and a toilet) at the base of west ridge.
We brought 2x camalots from .3-#3, a blue alien, a #4 and a few nuts.
-- find chains (impossible) or cairn-marked slings with a mallion (slung around a solid hunk of rock) just below north edge of summit
-- rap about 15 meters or down climb 5.5 then walk another 10 to a huge slung block.
-- rap off this over two blocky edges to chains (about 15 m). From here on all raps are chains.
-- go about 10meters further (scramble or rap) to find more chains on skier's left of ridge
-- rap ALONG RIDGE DO NOT GO DOWN EITHER SIDE for about 25-30 m
-- rap straight down a corner (this will be on climber's right as you are rapping down ridge) 30m
-- rap down to a ledge 25 m
-- rap or scramble to climbers' left sideways along ledge about 30m
-- do 3-4 20-30m raps straight down; last one gets you over the 'schrund